The Jeremy Lin signing has become a minor problem for the Warriors. It’s a sign, other than the terrible way they’ve been playing, that the honeymoon of new ownership is over and we’re now dealing with reality. The little things matter.
It’s not the money – Lin’s contract is roughly half a million this year and roughly $750,000 next year – it’s the fact that he’s under a (partially) guaranteed contract and is taking up roster space on a Warriors team that started off the year with two of its key reserve big men, Lou Amundson and Ekpe Udoh, on the disabled list. That forced the Warriors to sign power-forward training camp invitee, Jeff Adrien, to a non-guaranteed contract (but that still takes up roster space).
It’s a problem because Lin isn’t ready for the NBA and Jeff Adrien is. This is evidenced by Lin’s limited playing time and tentativeness when he’s on the court. Despite making defensive contributions, the Warriors already thin in backcourt depth, need consistent and reliable production from the reserve point guard position. Lin needs time in the D-League.
The Warriors signed Acie Law. Remember him? He’s okay I guess. He should be an upgrade over Lin right now. This should give the Warriors the luxury of sending Lin down to the D-League (once Curry is healthy again), but he still takes up a roster spot because he’s under contract.
Thus, because Amundson is now active and Udoh soon to follow, Adrien was the odd man out when it came to making room for Acie Law because Adrien’s contract is non-guaranteed. In other words, Adrien was the cheapest player to cut. Which is unfortunate because Adrien seems like a player the Warriors could really use: rebounds well, doesn’t get moved off the block, and is active on both ends of the court. He was productive when he was in the game. But hopefully Amundson and Udoh can fill that void.
The Warriors didn’t have to give Lin a guaranteed contract; they didn’t have to sign him, period. But it’s clear that the immediate benefit of signing him was more about marketing to the Asian American fan base than it was about having adequate backcourt depth, at least in the beginning of the season. Lin’s a project and I don’t think the Warriors can afford that right now (look at their record and how many minutes Curry and Ellis are playing).
It’s a problem because Joe Lacob didn’t have the foresight to leverage against this issue: injuries, development, and more injuries; a player with more skill is sacrificed because Lacob made an impulse buy all while NOT being the owner. Hey, maybe it’s paying off through merchandise sales but given last year’s injury woes that granted a hardship exemption from the league, allowing them to carry more than 15 players on their active roster, you would think Lacob & Co. could have planned a little better. But they didn’t. I don’t fault Jeremy Lin – I actually think he’ll be a decent player someday, but Lin is Lacob’s pet project and it’s currently hurting the Warriors. All that being said, this is a minor problem for the immediate future but perhaps a glimpse into bigger problems long-term.